Campus round-up

April 26, 2012

Durham University

Unrivalled shelf life

Europe's oldest surviving book is to go on display in Durham after £9 million was raised to buy it for the nation. The St Cuthbert Gospel, a manuscript copy of the Gospel of St John produced in the late 7th century in the North East of England, is expected to go on display from July 2013 at Durham University's Palace Green Library. The book will spend half the time in Durham and the other half at the British Library in London. It was found in the coffin of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral in 1104.

University of Abertay Dundee

Master of your research destiny

A Scottish institution has launched one-year research master's courses in more than 200 subject areas across the arts and sciences. The University of Abertay Dundee is adding the "master's by research" qualification to its range of taught master's programmes. Grahame Wright, Abertay's director of recruitment, said that the degree would allow students to "complete a research project that can enhance their CV, but also retain the option to go on to a PhD should their career plans change".

University of East Anglia

Close ties may furnish leads

Researchers are looking for the close friends and family of people suffering from depression to participate in a study investigating how those with the illness make treatment choices. Patients' preferences for treatment have a strong influence on their adherence to the chosen regimen, but it is not known what those preferences are based on. A University of East Anglia research initiative aims to find out the factors patients consider when selecting therapy for depression. Volunteers must be over 18 and a close family member or friend to a person who has received or been recommended to receive treatment within the past year.

• For more information, email Ada Mackovova at

University of Leicester

Meet the neighbours

A student welfare service has created an avenue for international students to learn about the UK from locals. The University of Leicester's Language Cafe pilot scheme will bring international students together with their domestic peers and local volunteers in weekly sessions focused on aspects of UK life including sport, food and codes of behaviour. Home students and volunteers will give brief presentations, but most of the time will be devoted to informal conversation so that students on Leicester's pre-sessional English courses can practise their conversational skills.

University of Edinburgh/Peking University

Mobility vehicle

A new partnership will facilitate postgraduate student exchanges between institutions in China and Scotland, and strengthen research cooperation. The agreement, signed last week by the University of Edinburgh and Peking University, will establish a National China Research Centre at the former institution and a National UK Research Centre at the latter to bolster scholarly links in economic, political and cultural areas. PhD and master's students at both universities will have an opportunity to spend time at the partner institution.

University of Southampton

Hows and whys of breaking bad

Scientists have identified the genes that influence the risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Researchers at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans to scrutinise more than 80,000 individuals in the largest-ever genetic study of osteoporosis. The study, published in Nature Genetics, shows that variants in 56 regions of the genome can influence the bone mineral density of individuals, with 14 of them found to increase the risk of bone fracture.

University of Warwick

Pot of gold to reach the stars

A strategic alliance between Australian and UK universities has been boosted by a grant worth just over £500,000. The funding from the Building Global Engagements in Research programme of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will help the University of Warwick and Monash University build academic partnerships in areas of research strength and strategic priority, including sustainable chemistry, solar energy, innovative manufacturing, data management and high-performance computing, materials and analytical science and polymer science. The funding will also allow both universities to identify young research "stars" whose careers would benefit from overseas experience at the partner institution, and to explore other ways of further internationalising doctoral training.

University of Brighton

In it together

Artists with complex learning disabilities are to showcase their collaborative artwork alongside mainstream artists in the first major international exhibition to focus on "inclusive art". The exhibition and symposium, which will be shown at London's Southbank Centre, is being led by Alice Fox, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton. The Rocket Artist group, which she directs, has been awarded £59,000 by Arts Council England to deliver the event at the Spirit Level gallery in March 2013.

LSE/Queen Mary

Put their policies to the test

Voters turned off by the war of words in London's mayoral election campaign now have a chance to rise above the rhetoric, thanks to an online tool designed to help them decide how to cast their vote on 3 May., designed by academics at the London School of Economics, Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Zurich, allows users to answer a series of questions on policy issues being debated in the run-up to the election, such as crime, education, welfare and transport. It analyses the extent to which responses match the policies of Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones and other candidates.

University of Nottingham

Medium, meet message

Chemists have engraved an image of the Queen on to a diamond to mark her 60 years on the throne. The University of Nottingham team, led by Martyn Poliakoff, research professor of chemistry, etched the 46-micron-high image on a damaged diamond that it had intended to use for infrared spectroscopy. A video of the process has been uploaded to YouTube. It has been suggested that the diamond should be presented to the Queen, but Professor Poliakoff said he would rather it was part of an exhibition of objects connected to the Diamond Jubilee.

London South Bank University

Slowly does it?

Research into the health benefits of a martial art could help improve the lives of young people with cystic fibrosis. The study will explore how t'ai chi can help to manage the condition and lead to a better quality of life. Nicola Robinson, professor of traditional Chinese medicine and integrated health at London South Bank University, will work with cystic fibrosis sufferers aged 16 to 21 being treated at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. T'ai chi is believed to have a variety of health benefits as it relies on slow, controlled, meditative movements that develop strength, balance and posture - but its potential for treating cystic fibrosis has yet to be closely examined.

Imperial College London

Consultation, not amputation

A lack of cooperation between doctors is causing the number of leg amputations to remain high, despite major advances in treatment, experts have warned. Around 100 major amputations at the ankle or above are performed in England each week. Most occur because a foot ulcer has failed to heal. Evidence suggests that the vast majority of amputations could be prevented if patients with ulcers were referred to specialists earlier. Roger Greenhalgh, emeritus professor of surgery at Imperial College London, highlighted the need for early referral and interdisciplinary management at the recent CX Symposium, of which he is the programme director, an event attended by 3,500 specialists in vascular medicine from across the world.

Exeter/University College London

Shedding light on toxins' toll

Understanding the damage that pollution causes to wildlife and human health is to become easier thanks to a green-glowing zebrafish. Created by a team from the University of Exeter, the fish makes it easier to pinpoint where environmental chemicals act in the body and how they can affect health. The fluorescent fish has shown that oestrogenic chemicals, which have been linked to reproductive problems, affect more parts of the body than was previously thought. The research by the University of Exeter and University College London has been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

University of Liverpool

Confirmed: access is denied

Researchers have resolved a long-standing debate over the mechanisms involved in the "shut-down process" when cells divide. It is already known that cells splitting off "daughter cells" to replicate the body's genetic information are unable to perform other tasks such as taking in foods or fluids. One theory is that they do this by preventing a vehicle - called a receptor - from transporting nutrients through the cell membrane, although this has recently been disputed. But findings by University of Liverpool researchers have confirmed the theory and thrown fresh light on how receptors are shut down during cell division. It is hoped that this process can be manipulated to prevent viruses and other pathogens from entering the body.

Pier review

A history course on Southend's growth from a small fishing hamlet to a busy seaside resort has been launched. The 10-week course on the history of the East Coast town began this week at the Centre for Local and Regional History at the University of Essex and is led by local historian Ian Yearsley, who completed a master's in Essex's department of history. The course will explore the key developments in the town's history, as well as covering developments in neighbouring parishes. Topics covered will include Prittlewell Priory, Southend Pier's status as the world's longest pleasure pier and Southend United Football Club.

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